The most divisive issue on the Oklahoma City Council’s agenda this month isn’t likely to be the ongoing budget talks and the possibility of layoffs. It’s chickens.
Some residents want the city to reconsider its ban on keeping chickens in most residential areas. The city’s ordinances allow chickens only on lots one acre or larger.
Based on comments at last week’s city council meeting, council members are split on the issue. Most said the residents they’ve talked to also are torn.
Sarah Braden has led the fight for allowing urban chickens. She said she is in favor of common-sense restrictions such as limiting the number of chickens allowed in residential areas and prohibiting roosters.
Braden said she did a survey of the 30 NBA cities for comparison.
"There are 23 NBA cities where chickens are allowed,” Braden said. "I don’t know what the restrictions are on them, but they are allowed.”
The city’s own survey of eight peer cities in the region found that six allow chickens on lots of any size, one requires a half-acre lot and one does not allow chickens at all.
A survey by the Neighborhood Alliance found two thirds of city residents would support backyard chickens with some restrictions, such as those Braden suggests.
Those numbers aren’t swaying some critics, such as Ward 3 Councilman Larry McAtee, whose ward includes southwest Oklahoma City.
"I’m against chickens, and my neighborhoods are against chickens,” he said. "The neighborhoods that I have talked to have been overwhelmingly against chickens, five to one.”
Even if the council passes an ordinance allowing chickens, home owners’ associations and covenant neighborhoods could pass their own regulations banning them.
Most council members said the residents they’ve talked to are evenly split on the issue.